TEXARKANA -- Years ago, University of Miami receiver Santana Moss said big time players make big time plays in big time games.
And 0-3 so far on the season, there was maybe never a better time for big-time plays than Friday night here for Kilgore.
Facing Class 5A's Texas High, the Bulldogs, who got off to a slow start on the season, finally popped the bully in the mouth, taking a big lead over the Tigers and claiming a 42-14 win.
Kilgore, now 1-3 on the season, will host Pittsburg next week; that's homecoming for the Ragin' Red. Texas High is one of only a few programs that hold an all-time series lead over the Bulldogs. That was Kilgore's 12th win in the series, a series Texas High leads, 12-19-1.
No one really cared about that Friday night, though; Kilgore's program might have just saved its season.
Kilgore somewhat shockingly led 28-7 at the half, courtesy of one big play after another.
Texas High stole momentum early in the third quarter and scored on a 70-yard pass play from quarterback Coltin Clack to Myles Washington, cutting Kilgore's lead in half, 28-14.
But the Bulldogs just pressured Clack all night long, and the Tigers' offense never got in rhythm.
KHS quarterback Gus Witt kept drawing Texas High's defensive front offsides -- six in the game, to be exact. The Bulldogs used that to help them take momentum back, and to help march down the field, a clock-eating 14-play, 78-yard drive that Witt finished himself. He faked a handoff and then scored on a 6-yard run, giving Kilgore a 35-14 lead.
They iced the game on a 1-yard run by Jerrick "Deuce" Ervin with 2:18 left.
The Bulldogs just came out in the first half and made a statement.
After forcing a Tigers punt on their opening possession, Kilgore scored first, a 2-yard run by Damien Parker, after a big pass play from Witt to A.J. Smith for 40 yards.
It didn't take T-High long to tie it up.Clack, working from his own 29, completed a pass to receiver Rian Cellers to midfield, and Cellers turned on the afterburners, outrunning everyone to the end zone for a 71-yard score. That tied the game at seven with 2:56 left in the first quarter, and the quarter ended with Kilgore driving.
Kilgore running back Tray Epps scored on the first play of the second quarter, a 26-yard touchdown that wound up a six-play, 61-yard drive. Elivan Torres' extra point gave the Bulldogs a 14-7 advantage.
The next sequence was a nightmare for the Tigers. Clack tried to connect with receiver Kobe Webster, but the wide-open Webster, downfield about 25 yards, took his eyes off the ball and it bounced off his fingertips. On the next play, a third down, a bad snap ricocheted off Clack's hands and backward; he had to run all the way back to his 9-yard-line to get it, a loss of 16.
The Tigers punted out of their own end zone and Kilgore wound up with great starting field position, at T-High's 31. Kilgore put the Tigers back on their heels, scoring in six plays. The scoring play was a 1-yard run by Parker, behind a big group of blockers in the backfield: Scott Silvey, J.Q. Mumphrey and Deundre Blanton -- Mumphrey and Blanton were guest-stars from their normal position on Kilgore's defensive line.
After forcing another Tigers' punt, Kilgore's Kennieth Lacy delivered a knockout punch.Lacy broke free through the Tigers' defensive front for a 78-yard run, just getting tackled at the T-High 2-yard-line. He scored on the next play to put the Ragin' Red up 28-7, in front of a shocked crowd.
The Tigers even blew the kickoff, with Tracy Cooper mishandling the ball and getting tackled at his own 4. But they recovered for a nice drive before the end of the half. They converted twice on third down: one on a pass from Clack to Washington, and then again on a run by Clack for 8 yards.
The Tigers' drive stalled, though, at Kilgore's 28-yard-line. Kilgore was able to get tremendous pressure on Clack on the drive, and forced a pair of incompletions at the goal line to Webster and Washington. On fourth and 10, at the 28, Blanton sacked Clack to end the threat. Kilgore took over on downs, and Witt knelt out the final 30 seconds of the first half.
KHS ran the ball 50 times for 314 rushing yards. Lacy had 13 carries for 161 yards and a score. Epps had 121 yards and a score on 23 carries. Parker had three carries for just 3 yards, but scored twice. Witt had four carries for 13 yards and a score. Ervin had his touchdown and finished with 11 rushing yards.
Witt was 4-of-4 for 83 yards; A.J. Smith had two for 53 of it, including the big play early in the game that jump-started Kilgore's offense.
For Texas High, Clack completed 17-of-30 passes for 241 yards and two scores. Washington had five catches for 108 yards and the long score. Clack was the Tigers' leading rusher; he had only 23 yards. The Kilgore defense put on a clinic, as did the offense. The Ragin' Red only punted one time on the night.
In the subvarsity games on Thursday night, played here at R.E. St. John, both the freshmen and junior varsity for Kilgore remained undefeated, each 4-0.
Coach Robert Cooley’s Kilgore freshmen won in a shutout, 20-0, and coach Jay Dean’s JV won, 18-14, in an exciting finish.
Bobby Owens caught the game-winning touchdown with 14 seconds left from quarterback Dalton McElyea to give the JV ‘Dogs the win.
Gavin Smith scored a touchdown in the game for Kilgore, as well, and Dean said Adam Hooten and Billy Bell both played well on offense; Dean singled out Brantly Propes, J’son Steber, and Mason Henderson for their defensive play.
Kilgore’s freshmen and JV will both be back on the road next Thursday night, facing Pittsburg.